Welcome back to week #25 of the #YoungMumsProject. This Week we are joined by the lovely Claire from Bumps, Babies, Tots & Teens Mummy Diaries.
Hey there, I’m Claire and I’m a mum to 5 boys. When I came across this opportunity to write a guest post for the Lovely Zoe here at Mummy & Liss, I jumped at the chance. I’m now 33 years old, Married, Mummy to 5 sons and have my own business. By the time i was 25, I had 3 children! I was a young mum. But looking back I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m not going to lie, my experience of being a young mum was tough, very tough. So tough in fact I contemplated ending my own life.
I fell pregnant with my eldest son at 17 and had him when I was 18. I fell pregnant with my 2nd son at 20 and had him 2 weeks before my 21st birthday. I fell pregnant with my 3rd son when I was 24 and had him a month after my 25th birthday. You can read about my first pregnancy here. All 3 are to different ‘dads’. My first and second sons dad’s left me to be a single mum. My first sons dad left when our son was 6 weeks old. He said he couldn’t handle it. With my second sons dad there were issues of domestic violence. We split up when I was 6 months pregnant. My third sons dad is now my husband. When I had my first son I lived with my parents. I didn’t work and I was on Income Support. I thought I was so grown up and knew everything. I was a Mum after all. I look back now and realise how wrong I was. I hated my parents telling me what to do regarding my son so I moved out. I got myself a two up two down terraced house. It had damp and it wasn’t in the nicest of areas. I had nothing. My Mum helped me out by buying me the basics and letting me take my bed from their house. It was just me and my first son.
I was living off a very tight budget. I now had bills to pay, food to buy. I was penniless. Every penny I had went on my son. I met my second sons dad and our relationship moved fast. I fell pregnant by accident within 3 months of meeting him. We moved in together. Things were great until I found out he had another girl pregnant too. 3 months ahead of me. He became controlling. Locked me in the house, took my mobile off me, stayed out all night, name calling etc. It was hell. He would go out drinking and spend any money we did have. I lost touch with my parents and he limited my contact with friends. One night he didn’t come home after being out. I was furious. He had been with the other girl. When he came home I ended up screaming at him. He had me locked in the house, with no phone or landline. He ended up punching me and pushed me over. I landed on my stomach. I was in agony. I was scared that I was losing my baby. I got kept in hospital for a week as my baby wasn’t moving and I kept getting cramps. My parents came to visit me in hospital. They took my house key and they went and took my belongings out of the house. Me and my first son were going back ‘home’.
Funnily enough, I never saw my second sons dad again until he was 3 years old and he was in prison. Life carried on, my second son was born with my Mum and best friend at the time by my side. I was a single mum from day 1 of my second son being born. We went to stay at my parents house. My parents were more than supportive. Helped me with night feeds, they would babysit for me so I could have some ‘Me time’. I still wasn’t working. By the time my second son was 6 months old I knew I couldn’t be a stay at home mum on benefits anymore. I needed a purpose, I needed to do something with my life. I applied for a job in a well known High Street Bank. I was called to the interview and I got the job!
Things were really looking up. My boys were thriving, I had some money behind me, I’d learnt to drive and now I had a job. I decided the time was right for me to find my own house again. This time with 4 more years life and Mummy experience I moved into my own home. Just me and my boys. I didn’t have a huge support network, I had my Parents and a couple of friends. Most of my friends had ‘dropped’ me after having my first son as I wasn’t able to go out with them or do what they wanted me to do. The friends I did have were other young mums. My Mum had been poorly all my life and my Dad worked full time. I had to get the help from a childminder to take care of my boys. I must say that she was a God send. Knowing that my boys were well looked after in a home from home family environment while I went out to work, eased the stress a little.
Being alone all the time with my boys or working, having a restricted life, depression set in. I was juggling my boys and their demands of wanting and needing their Mummy, work, money and bills. I found myself on a downward spiral. No one took me seriously. I contemplated ending my life. I took myself to the doctors and they gave me a sick note and an appointment was made with my boys Health Visitor. She was amazing. She would come out and see me and my boys on a weekly basis. We would have a cuppa and chat. It’s been 15 years now since I was pregnant with my first son. I remember I always felt judged as a young mum. I always remember being told by someone when I was pregnant with first son that I had ruined my life. That I was a failure. That comment always stayed at the back of my mind. I desperately wanted to prove them wrong. To deal with the judgements, I would turn a blind eye, get defensive. I was doing what I could with what I had, which was not a lot. I do admit that life has been harder with me being a Young Mum. I have always had to put my children needs and well being first. I have had to put my dreams on hold. I wasn’t able to finish college or go to university when I wanted to. I didn’t get to go on girly holidays or the other things young girls experience. I found I lost touch of myself and who I was. I was always in Mummy mode.
Being a Young Mum is not all doom and gloom. The good times always out weigh the bad times. Looking back I see the advantages of being a young mum. I am close to my sons, we have each others back. Being a young mum has given me life experiences, not all of them nice experiences and they’ve made me into the person I am today. I’m independent, learnt not to rely on anyone, learnt to appreciate what I have and to celebrate every achievement, no matter how small. When my eldest is an adult himself at 18, I will be the grand age of 36. I still have my life ahead of me. Like I said at the start, now i’m in my 30’s and I have found myself a husband, have 5 children and have my own business.
I personally didn’t find that there were many support services in my area aimed at young mums between 7 and 15 years ago when I was a young mum myself. At the time of having my eldest, the Sure Start services were just starting out. We would meet at a local soft play and chat with a Health Visitor. That was it. Going to playgroups or mother and toddler groups, I found ‘older mums’ would look down on me. Being a Young Mum should be celebrated and not judged. The stigmas need to be taken away. The saying ‘Don’t assume, Ask’ comes to mind. No one knows anyones personal circumstances. No one has a place to judge. I do think that there needs to be more services put in place for young mums. These services need to be based around emotional support, life skills and parenting skill. The approach needs to be none judgemental and more nurturing and guiding. Looking at the whole picture of mum and child. From what I understand the Sure Start services are being withdrawn and health visitors are far and few between. Support for mums and families are decreasing. If I was approached by a Young Mum asking me for advice I would say “Believe in yourself. Things might get tough at times but it will be worth it and you will learn from it. You can and will do what is best for you and your child. Make sure you take care of yourself as your child needs you to be fit and well. Keep your dreams insight, it might take a little bit longer for you to achieve them but you can still follow them. Anything is possible if you want it enough”
If you want to know more about Claire and her family, you can find her here.
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